We are excited by the release of the first draft of the Global Protocol for Community-Scale GHG Emissions (GPC) to help cities around the world measure and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions using a more consistent protocol. The GPC has been developed by Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI), World Bank, United Nations Environment Programme, and UN-Habitat. Today begins a one-month public comment period on the protocol to ensure it will fit the needs of those who will be implementing it.
A version of this blog ran on The Guardian Sustainable Business. It is based on Janet Ranganathan’s presentation at a recent event on integrated reporting in New York, hosted by WRI’s Corporate Consultative Group and Context, a sustainability communications company.
The United Nations has put global reporting by companies on sustainability among its proposed key outcomes for the Rio+ 20 summit in June. The "zero draft" policy agenda that negotiators will consider, calls for "a global policy framework requiring all listed and large private companies to consider sustainability issues and to integrate sustainability information within the reporting cycle."
This is a welcome move. Corporate reporting is all too often narrowly limited to financial information. But in our increasingly complex world, a company's finances represent just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface lurk risks that could cause leaks in the most seemingly successful business's operations, reputation or bottom line. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico involving BP and recent issues regarding factory conditions at a Chinese supplier for Apple are cases in point.
This piece was written with Graham Provost, intern at the World Resources Institute.
The agenda at this week’s Pacific Energy Summit, hosted by the National Bureau of Asian Research, in Hanoi, Vietnam, includes increasing energy security, expanding access to energy, and decarbonizing the power sector. Given these goals, plus the staggering growth in energy demand in Asia, as well as increasingly volatile fossil fuel prices and rapidly falling renewable energy costs, there are many opportunities to scale up renewable energy throughout the region. (For more on renewable energy’s rapid growth see here and here.) In order to take advantage of this fast-moving sector and develop internationally competitive domestic industries, countries need to have a strong capacity for innovation.
A new conference paper, "Taking Renewable Energy to Scale in Asia," explores these opportunities and challenges for the Summit Participants.
WRI just announced that Andrew Steer will be our new president. Andrew is currently the Special Envoy for Climate Change at the World Bank, and he’s a well-known figure in the international environment and development community.
Just the third president in WRI’s 30 year history, Andrew brings a breadth of international experience to the table, as well as a deep commitment to our issues.
For the most part, Ecosystem Markets still linger in the early stages of development. There is much more theoretical work to be done to set up environmental credit markets, including carbon offsets and payments for watershed services. But more pilot projects can also help these markets evolve and show how they might work in the real world.
Development pressures in the U.S. South often mean that forests are worth more cut down than left standing. In the U.S. South alone, the U.S. Forest Service estimates that suburban encroachment will convert approximately 31 million acres (approximately 14 percent of 2010 southern forest area) of southern forests to development between 1992 and 2040.
On March 9, 2012, the Ohio Public Utility Commission hosted a workshop for the Pilot Program on Combined Heat and Power, which it has launched in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The workshop convened industrial companies, energy experts, and state-level policymakers to discuss the role of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology in complying with upcoming federal Boiler MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) standards. The CHP pilot program in Ohio is an important precedent that recognizes the potential for U.S. industry to raise its energy productivity while improving the health of workers and surrounding communities.
This piece originally appeared in Kyodo News.
Like many others around the world, I watched with shock and sadness as the tsunami and nuclear disaster unfolded over Japan a year ago.
Among its many impacts, the Fukushima disaster has left an indelible mark on energy policy, not only in Japan but in other countries as well. As the world was reminded and Japan has now learned through direct experience, nuclear power carries significant risks. The question for Japan is, how does the country adopt a less risky energy base while still meeting its power needs into the future?
While conventional energy sources such as coal and oil may seem like appealing options, these carry different but also high risks. In particular, such carbon-intensive energy sources contribute heavily to climate change -- to which Japan is increasingly vulnerable through more extreme weather and rising sea levels.
In addition, as the world's third-largest economy and sixth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, Japan carries some responsibility to protect the world's most vulnerable countries from dangerous climate change.
Read the submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on increasing ambition from WRI and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to propose greenhouse gas emissions standards for new power plants soon. This represents an important step forward in reducing U.S. emissions, as the power sector has some of the largest opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This piece was written with Richard Lavin, President, Caterpillar Group. It originally appeared in China Daily.
China's recent history has been marked by tremendous economic growth and dynamism as it has progressed from a modest farming society to a thriving manufacturing success in less than three decades. As China's economy continues to grow, it must now wrestle with a new emerging challenge: How will it handle the shift from a majority rural population to a majority urban one?
This question represents one of the biggest sustainability challenges of the 21st century.
The statistics speak for themselves. By 2030, at least 220 cities in China will have at least 1 million residents, dwarfing the 35 million-people cities that Europe boasts today. Many of these cities in China will be built from the ground up. Designed the right way, they will serve as a global model for the sustainable, low-carbon city of tomorrow.
But for China to play this world-leading role, it will need to overcome many of the problems that plague fast-growing cities across Asia, Latin America and Africa. In many of these countries, rapidly expanding economies and a booming middle class are increasing pressure on scarce natural resources. Air and water pollution, traffic congestion, poor housing, and overcrowding are just some of the urban environmental and social ills for which cures urgently need to be found.